Sunday 1 November 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s cousin who owns a Staten Island restaurant criticizes the COVID-19 advisor over lockdown restrictions that have crippled the industry

 Dr. Anthony Fauci's cautious approach to reopening the food service industry has been a sore point for many small business owners - including his restaurant-owning cousin in New York City

While Dr. Fauci spent the pandemic at odds with the Trump administration in Washington D.C., his 84-year-old cousin tended to La Fontana: Staten Island Italian Restaurant as restrictions put a near-death grip on the dining industry.  

'They shouldn’t do the lockdowns,' Anthony Fauci of Staten Island, who shares the same name as his infectious disease expert relative, told The New York Post.    

'Especially now. If you don’t abide by the rules… shut that area down, but don’t shut down the whole industry.' 

That sentiment was echoed by his son, Joe Fauci, who has taken over the family business since his father founded it in 1983. 

Pictured: Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House coronavirus task force advisor
Pictured: Joe Fauci, owner of La Fonata: Staten Island Italian Restaurant and relative of Dr. Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci's (left) more cautious approach to reopening the restaurant industry has upset some family members, including Joe Fauci (right)

'In the beginning, I thought he was fabulous, but then a few times he flip-flopped on different things. He had us all locked down at a tremendous rate,' Joe explained to The Post.

'They should have loosened things up when it was slowing down in the summer. Everything else was loosening up except the restaurant business.'

As the pandemic edges towards the holiday season, the New York City's restaurant industry has struggled to stay afloat under the financial strain. 

Several factors, including a plunge in tourism and limited capacity seating inside restaurants, has forced revenues to falter.

In an interview with Market Watch, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer noted the 90 per cent decline in tourism in the last quarter of fiscal year in 2020. 

'In the midst of the pandemic, we are starting to realize that our 62 million [annual] tourist visitors will be no more in the short term,' Stringer told Market Watch.

'We haven’t lost our mojo as a city, but the pandemic has curbed what we can do to attract people from all over the world.'    

And the drop in tourism during the pandemic is on course to collide with the changing seasons, which would likely see customers bypass outdoor seating options as temperatures drop.  

La Fonata: Staten Island Italian Restaurant (pictured) was founded by Anthony Fauci of Staten Island, New York City, in 1983

La Fonata: Staten Island Italian Restaurant (pictured) was founded by Anthony Fauci of Staten Island, New York City, in 1983

Fauci discusses the rise in cases and struggles with resurgence
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The problem of customer appeal could assist in shutting down 24,000 restaurants and eliminate 150,000 jobs, according to a report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

'Estimates of the potential permanent closures of City restaurants and bars over the next six months to a year have generally ranged from one-third to one-half of all establishments that existed before the pandemic.

'At the high end, that could result in a permanent loss of nearly 12,000 of the City’s restaurants and bars, and nearly 159,000 industry jobs, although the opening of new restaurants would mitigate some of these losses,' the report reads. 

Dr. Fauci, who emerged as the face of the White House's coronavirus task force, repeatedly broke ranks with the Trump administration and pushed for more exhaustive lockdown restrictions.

He urged several states to 'seriously look' reclosing eateries in July as cases and deaths skyrocketed during the summer.

President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington

President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington

And in September, he called news that Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis had fully reopened bars and restaurants 'very concerning.' 

At the time, he added that 'when I say that, people get concerned that we’re talking about shutting down. 

'We’re not talking about shutting anything down. We’re talking about common sense type of public health measures that we’ve been talking about all along.'

According to The Post, Dr. Fauci and his Staten Island cousin are both native-Brooklynites whose family hails from southern Italy.

'My father and his father were first cousins. His grandfather and my grandfather were brothers,' Anthony Fauci of Staten Island told the publication.

But the two Faucis have never met in person. Dr. Fauci followed his ambitions into the medical field, while his cousin sought to make a name for himself in the local community. 

Fauci founded La Fonata more than three decades ago and watched as it became a commonplace for local GOP lawmakers.

'La Fontana and the Fauci family have become part of many peoples’ lives,' former Staten Island Rep. Vito Fossella wrote in an article.

Joe Fauci told The Post that he was still 'very proud' of Dr. Fauci and that overall he has done a 'spectacular job' spearheading the task force.

But he warned against the potentially harsh fallout that could dwindle down restaurants in the coming months.

'Nobody is paying any expenses. But in a couple of months from now, you will see how bad it will be,' Joe Fauci told The Post. 'When the smoke clears, a lot of these guys are going to be in a lot worse shape.'

Joe Fauci in June hosted a summit of 40 restaurant owners and elected officials to talk over reopening plans.

Before the pandemic struck New York City in January, business at La Fonata was flourishing. The Fauci's of Staten Island opened a second location in Annadale, named La Fonata Sorellena, in 2017. 

Despite only operating at 25 per cent capacity, a loyal customer base has helped the Fauci's wade through the pandemic.  

Joe Fauci, who reportedly voted early for President Trump, also expressed criticisms towards Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Pictured: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Pictured: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

The Fauci's of Staten Island also railed against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (right) 

'The nursing home debacle destroyed us. I can’t understand why they can’t admit when they were wrong,' he told The Post.

Cuomo previously enacted an executive order that forced nursing homes to admit patients with COVID-19. Some 4,300 infected patients were admitted.

He also took issue with de Blasio's response to Black Lives Matter protests that hit the Big Apple over the summer.

'I don’t understand how de Blasio can let them riot and protest, 5,000 people with no masks on, but we can’t go to church with 10 people,' Joe Fauci told The Post.

His father agreed, adding: 'I don’t want to tell you what I think about [de Blasio]. You won’t be able to print it. Him and that other jabroni, Cuomo.'   

COVID-19 cases in United States have topped 9 million and 229,000 deaths. The Big Apple has recorded 267,000 cases and 23,000 deaths.  

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